Canadian track coach Charlie Francis also mourned by mastersCharlie Francis, known to the world as coach of dope-cheat Ben Johnson, died Wednesday after a five-year battle with cancer. He was 61. But obituaries fail to note his friendship with masters sprinters and how his website included a masters community (message board). He posted “tips from CF” such as this in December 2006: “For masters athletes, I would suggest that the starting point for enhancing a training regime is therapy/massage, as older athletes will have more recovery-related issues and these measures can only have beneficial effects. If a masters athlete is starting up after many years off, or for the first time, he/she would need a substantial initial hypertrophy phase (with reasonably moderate progressions), but after that, they would follow the individualized progressions of any other athlete.”
Closer to home, Charlie Francis was a friend of some American masters sprinters, including M65 Tony Craddock of Santa Barbara, who wrote me yesterday:
Yes, Ange (his wife) called me yesterday with the news. Charlie was one of my closest friends, and I’ll miss him and his keen intellect. A true genius, and one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever met, and great company. The real Charlie Francis was a gentle soul, far removed from his public media created image. And, of course, a brilliant coach.
The following article is closer to the truth about Charlie than most. I’ll be at his funeral in Toronto on Tuesday, and our hearts go out to his wife Ange, and James, his 11-year-old son (who looks and sprints just like Charlie, and is already a stellar soccer player).